Chrohn’s disease, Ulcerative Collitis, inflammatory bowel disease and C. difficile infections plague millions of Americans every year. Chrohn’s disease alone affects approximately 700,000 Americans. Many of these diseases are considered autoimmune disorders and are thought to occur when the immune system attacks healthy tissue. Typical treatments are toxic and have variable efficacy. However, a relatively new therapy called Fecal microbiota transplantation, or FMT, otherwise known as a stool transplant, is rapidly being used and has been found to be incredibly successful.
New research suggests that the microbes in our guts—and, consequently, in our stool—may play a role in conditions ranging from autoimmune disorders to allergies and obesity, and reports of recoveries by patients who, with or without the help of doctors, have received these probiotics or bacteria-rich infusions. A year and a half ago, a few dozen physicians in the United States offered FMT. Today, hundreds do, and OpenBiome, a nonprofit stool bank founded last year by graduate students at M.I.T., ships more than fifty specimens each week to hospitals in thirty-six states.
A January 2013 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine published the first randomized controlled trial involving FMT and compared therapy for C. difficile with vancomycin versus FMT. the study showed that only a third of those receiving the standard therapy of vancomycin recovered compared to 94% with those undergoing therapy with FMT.
The first description of FMT occurred in 1958 by Ben Eiseman and published in Surgery. Subsequent researchers including Stanley Falkow at Stanford and Thomas Borody, from Sydney Australia had varied successes including treating patients with autoimmune disorders including Crohn’s disease and multiple sclerosis.
So is it time for more probiotics and even stool transplants? The literature and research is strongly in support and this might be a highly successful treatment for a variety of conditions.
There are also some recent studies including a 2006 study in Nature which showed that microbes in the gut may also be responsible for obesity